A new Nueces River bridge is just part of a major construction project TxDOT has planned for Interstate 37.
The project will focus on a stretch of I-37 from the Redbird Lane exit, to the US-77 interchange.
Now, that part of I-37 ranges from three to five lanes; TxDOT officials believe making the road four lanes in each direction will keep traffic flowing smoother and safer.
The Nueces River Bridge will be replaced by a new bridge that will be a few feet higher to help prevent road flooding.
I-37 and the Nueces River Bridge are major evacuation routes and TxDOT says those will remain available if necessary.
“Hurricane lanes will not be affected by this project, the Hurricane Evacuation Routes will be up,” said Rickey Dailey, TxDOT Public Information Officer. “It’s kind of like what you’re seeing on the Harbor Bridge right now; although the bridge is being built at another location, the current bridge is still in use.”
While the river has never risen to the current bridge’s level, it has come close. According to TxDOT, the highest water crews have seen was about a foot below the bridge. Raising the bridge makes flooding more unlikely.
“Often times if you get heavy rains associated with a storm or a hurricane, you have brush, you have trees that knock up against the bridge,” said Dailey.
According to TxDOT, the preliminary design phase is about 95 percent finished. The project is expected to go out for bids this summer, with work starting in the fall.
Construction is expected to take between 2 and 2½ years to finish.